Sunday, January 26, 2020

Feds reach $3 million settlement in ammonia release

In a settlement announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice, Millard Refrigerated Services will pay a $3 million penalty for a 2010 airborne release of ammonia.

A malfunction in refrigeration equipment at Millard’s warehouse in Theodore, Alabama, resulted in the release of 32,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, which can be fatal in high concentrations. The malfunction was due to Millard’s failure to address the risk of hydraulic shock, which is a well-known cause of equipment failures and had previously caused two smaller releases at the facility.

“EPA is serious about holding companies that threaten people’s health and safety accountable,” EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Cynthia Giles said. “It’s imperative that companies that use and store potentially hazardous materials like ammonia to ensure their operations do not pose a health risk to their employees or the public.”

Following the EPA’s investigation, Millard faced 37 violations of the Clean Air Act. Millard has sold the facility, and it is no longer in use.

“The release of ammonia created significant health problems,” Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division John Cruden said. “This settlement underscores how lapses in environmental management can have serious consequences, and today we are holding Millard accountable for this failure to ensure the safety of its workers and the surrounding community.”

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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